All Tomorrow's Parties: When Music Festival Meets Film Festival

The <b>All Tomorrow’s Parties</b> (ATP) film is dedicated to recreating the atmosphere of the cult music festival. <b>Gail Tolley</b> spoke to the film’s producer Luke Morris about creating the ‘ultimate mix-tape’ on film.

Feature by Gail Tolley | 01 Jun 2009
  • All Tomorrow's Parties

Since 1999, ATP has offered an alternative to the mud and messiness of the traditional music festival. The film of the same name aims to capture some of the best moments from the past 10 years including sets by Belle and Sebastian, Portishead and Animal Collective to name just a few. The Skinny caught up with producer Luke Morris to find out more.

How did the ATP film project come about?

We felt ATP deserved to be documented. The idea came about in the early days of Warp Films existence, and it seemed a good fit – ATP and Warp have a similar independent artist-driven ethos. I asked Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation) to come on board and we developed this idea of using found and contributed fan and musician footage to create a collage that would try to represent the spirit of the festival. Thurston Moore called ATP the ultimate mix tape and we wanted to convey that idea on film.

A variety of footage is used from different sources for the film, what were your reasons for this and what was involved in making the film this way?

Doing it this way seemed like the best way to represent the communal atmosphere of the festival and sustain the DIY aspect that All Tomorrow’s Parties and Warp are all about. It also made sense economically because we started the project off with no money. Unlike many outdoor festivals, where fans camp out in tents, at ATP they would bring camcorders and cameras with them because they have chalets to lock them in. We wanted to take advantage of this as we thought it was the best way to represent the festival’s collective spirit. We posted adverts online, put calls out through the ATP mailing list and trawled YouTube looking for footage captured by fans on mobiles, super 8, HD and DV.

We discovered Paris-based filmmaker Vincent Moon (who has since become acclaimed for his Take Away Shows and work with bands like REM and Arcade Fire) this way. He shot footage at Thurston Moore’s Nightmare Before Christmas in 2007, which I think was his first ATP, and sent it to us. The footage was fantastic and we invited him back to every festival since.

We ended up with about 600 hours of footage, with submissions and contributions from over 200 people. Although we only used footage from less than half of them in the final film we still credited everyone. These are the All Tomorrow’s People.

Managing the material was pretty chaotic though – so we are forever grateful to Edinburgh-based editor Nick Fenton (Heima, Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo) for helping make sense of it all.

At EIFF the film is being shown in two ways, straight up as a film but also with a live performance alongside it. When you were making the film did you have any particular thoughts on how the film should be experienced by an audience?

I’m glad that people in Edinburgh will be able to see it on the 24th with a beer in their hands in this incredible immersive environment Future Cinema are going to create. I wish we could build a holiday camp and have incredible bands play after every screening.

What do you think makes the ATP festivals so unique and memorable?

The unique setting, the community of fans and musicians, the sense of discovering music, but mainly the fact it’s run by people who care about music and the audience’s experience more than making money.

What is your own favourite ATP moment?

Grizzly Bear playing unplugged on the beach and watching Salo at 4am in the holiday camp cinema.

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